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Venison Italian sausage is a staple in most hunters' freezers. But most of the time it's not homemade. Let's change that! Sausage seasonings are so easy to make and you can adjust the ingredients and quantities to suit your palate. Plus, you can make small batches instead of committing to having a freezer full of one type of sausage. Sound like a plan? Let's get to it!
Why this recipe works:
Making your own sausage seasoning is a great first step to customizing your cooking. It's so much fun to play around with the flavor profiles of different spices and herbs and see how they taste together. The great part about making small batches of sausage is that you can take notes on what you did or didn't like and make improvements for the next batch. This Italian sausage seasoning recipe is one I've been perfecting for years. It has the perfect balance of flavors from the combination of spices and herbs along with the tanginess of some red wine vinegar. Try it out and you'll never want to buy a premade mix again!
- Ground Venison: This recipe uses ground venison but this sausage seasoning will work well with any ground meat - wild game, pork, beef, and even poultry.
- Dried Herbs: This recipe calls for numerous dried herbs and spices. If you have fresh herbs on hand, feel free to use them! You can substitute 1 teaspoon of dried herbs with 1 tablespoon of chopped fresh herbs.
- Red Pepper Flakes: Red pepper flakes are what makes Italian sausage spicy (or not). If you like your sausage spicy, add more red pepper flakes. If you don't like it spicy at all, don't add them!
- Red Wine Vinegar: Red wine vinegar gives Italian sausage its signature "zing." You can certainly make sausage without it but it enhances the flavor combination of the herbs and spices.
- Lard: Lard is used to cook the sausage in because I used ground venison without any added fat. If your meat has fat ground in, there is no need to add the lard.
- Cast Iron Pan: I prefer to cook sausage in a cast iron pan because it browns it up nicely. But, you can use your favorite cooking skillet as well!
How to make venison Italian sausage:
Making sausage is so easy! All you need are some dried herbs (or fresh) and spices and a pound of ground meat and you're on your way! See below for a few simple steps:
Storing sausage seasoning:
If you're like me and only want to make a pound of sausage at a time, it's great to have the seasoning mixture ready to go whenever you want to make it. I like to add all the seasonings to a jar and shake it up until it's well-combined. Then, put simple instructions on the lid of the jar. The seasoning mixture ends up being slightly more than 3 tablespoon needed per pound of meat. Plus, you'll want to add the red wine vinegar when you're making the sausage. Don't add it to the jar! 5 batches of seasoning will fit into an 8 oz jar. And there you have it! Sausage seasoning at the ready.
Other sausage recipes to try:
Ground sausage is sausage that hasn't been stuffed into a casing. It may also be referred to as loose sausage.
Yes and no. It's not necessary to grind it into the meat but it is necessary to cook the sausage in some type of fat.
Yes! You can make as much or as little as you want if you have the seasoning mix on hand and ready to go!
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Ground Venison Italian Sausage
- 1 lb ground venison (or elk, moose, antelope, etc.)
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ¾ teaspoon black pepper
- ¾ teaspoon dried parsley
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon ground fennel
- ½ teaspoon brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- 2 tablespoon lard or bacon fat, for cooking (only needed if your meat doesn't have fat ground in)
- Thaw ground venison in a paper towel-lined bowl in the fridge. This helps remove off flavors and excess liquid from the meat.
- Combine all spices in a small bowl.
- Add spices to ground venison. Drizzle red wine vinegar over meat.
- Mix sausage together with your hands until spices are evenly distributed in the meat.
- Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before cooking, preferably overnight to let the flavors marry.
- Heat a cast iron pan over medium-high heat. Add lard or bacon fat to pan if your meat doesn't have fat ground in.
- Add sausage to pan and spread out in a thin layer. Cook for 5-6 minutes or until browned and crispy (but not burned) on the bottom.
- Flip the meat and break it up into smaller pieces. Cook for an additional 2-3 minutes.
- Remove from pan and enjoy on its own or as an ingredient for other delicious recipes!
- You can make several batches of the seasoning mixture (without the vinegar) and store it in glass jars for future use. The seasoning mixture ends up being around 3 tablespoon per pound of meat. You can label the jars "Italian Sausage Seasoning. 3 tablespoon per lb + 1 tablespoon Red Wine Vinegar."
- This seasoning mixture can be ground into your venison before freezing if you prefer to have several packages of Italian sausage on hand.